- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Jenny Lakeman
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 May 2005
Jenny Lakemans Story
When the war started Jenny was 6 ½ and I had a brother and a sister who are both younger than me. At the time of the war I was living at oxford grove. The Americans stored all there jeeps and other vehicles in the car park opposite and had commandeered the end houses at each side. There were a lot of Americans in Ilfracombe during the war. The marines were at the Collingwood Hotel, the Pegcall were at Ilfracombe hotel, the wrens had the mount hotel the cliff hydro had the ATS. And the other hotels had military forces in there as well. The Jubilee Gardens were tennis courts before the war and the Americans commandeered them and put up some large Nissan huts where they all ate. The Americans trained at Woolacombe. The streets were gas lit instead of electric like today. Black out ARP’s who patrolled the streets to see if there where any lights showing, if there was a fine if you where showing any light. There were air raid sirens when the planes went overhead to bomb Wales docks that they could see all lit up due to this.
There were a lot of evacuees. There were people around Ilfracombe rail way with labels and gas masks around there necks waiting for evacuated children that came here from the bombed out city and as a result this made the schools over crowded.
When the evacuees came you had to sit four to a desk, as there wasn’t enough space or equipment to support them all. The exercise books were taken away and instead paper was used to write on. When there was a reading lesson a book had to be passed around the classroom which they read parts from. When the air raid siren went at school they all had to go to tunnels beaches in the tunnels until they got the all clear.
Watermouth Castle was sealed off because the military tested Pluto there to pipe oil under the sea to France. At the time this was top secret and anyone passing through had to have a pass.
There was barbed wire around the coasts incase there were enemy landings.
You had to register for rationing books and there were different allowances for adults an children as well as food rations clothes were rationed as well. All the ration books were taken at the end of the war. Petrol coupons were used to get petrol but only if you were somebody important like a doctor.
When the war was over there were a lot of street parties in Ilfracombe to celebrate.
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